Monday, December 9, 2013

Sausage & gnocchi soup

Remember that time I was totally spontaneous and made the most amazing soup on the fly?

Yeah, me neither.  Not the second part, but certainly the first.  The part about being spontaneous.  The part that involved no forethought or planning.

Yes, it's really me.  And, no, I haven't been brainwashed by aliens.

Have you ever been craving something but weren't sure exactly what that something was?  Psychologists, doctors, and those crazy coaches on The Biggest Loser might insist that feeling is merely boredom and you're not really hungry.

I wholeheartedly disagree.

(Jillian Michaels, if you're reading this, I love and adore you and want to work out with you every day forever.)

Last week, I found myself in the mood for soup without a firm plan for said soup.  In other words, I raided the pantry and the fridge and grabbed anything that appealed to me.  "Yeah, that'll work," I told myself.

And then I started cooking... and my mind kept changing.  I grabbed more items and ignored others.  I wasn't sure when I'd be finished or what kind of soup I'd have, but I knew it smelled good.

Oh, good gracious did it smell incredible.

To start, onions, garlic, and sweet sausage -- how bad could they be?  Swimming with sweet tomatoes and plump gnocchi in a rich chicken broth, this mystery meal turned out to be one heck of a dreamy Italian soup.

Dreamy and stick-to-your-ribs hearty.  A new spin on a classic combination of pork and potatoes -- sausage and gnocchi soup!

Somehow I manage to forget how much I absolutely adore gnocchi.  Every time I have it, I experience a sort of culinary nirvana and think, "This is my favorite kind of pasta ever," despite the fact that it's more of a dumpling than a pasta.

What makes this gnocchi extra delicious is that it's cooked in chicken broth and absorbs the flavors of it, as well as the garlic, onions, and seasoned sausage.  Fluffy little pillows of flavor!

Little edible pillows floating in a soup that turned out to be exactly what I wanted, when I didn't even know it.  Call it a happy accident, dumb luck, or a miracle.  Whatever you call it, make sure you call me when you make this soup because I definitely want more :)

Three years ago: Roasted cumin & chick pea salad

Sausage & Gnocchi Soup
-serves 4

A few notes: Use whatever kind of sausage you like, be it sweet or hot, a mix, or even turkey sausage.  This recipe can be easily doubled or even tripled to feed a large crowd.  Finally, grated parmesan would be great on top; I didn't have it on hand so that's the only reason I didn't use it.  Next time, it'll most definitely be included.
2 links sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian stewed tomatoes
32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound package gnocchi
Grated parmesan cheese, optional, for serving

In a large stock pot over medium heat, cook sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned.  Remove to a plate and set aside.  Add oil and onion, stirring occasionally and cooking until onions are tender, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.  Add tomatoes, juice, and oregano, breaking up tomatoes with spoon, and cook 1 minute.

Return cooked sausage to pot, add chicken broth, and bring to a simmer.  Add gnocchi and cook until gnocchi rise to surface (sign they're done) 3 to 4 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Top with cheese, if using.  Cozy up, serve, and enjoy!

Leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days.

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